Computational Model Library

Peer reviewed Evolution of Ecological Communities: Testing Constraint Closure

Steve Peck | Published Sun Dec 6 19:37:54 2020 | Last modified Fri Apr 16 22:17:46 2021

Ecosystems are among the most complex structures studied. They comprise elements that seem both stable and contingent. The stability of these systems depends on interactions among their evolutionary history, including the accidents of organisms moving through the landscape and microhabitats of the earth, and the biotic and abiotic conditions in which they occur. When ecosystems are stable, how is that achieved? Here we look at ecosystem stability through a computer simulation model that suggests that it may depend on what constrains the system and how those constraints are structured. Specifically, if the constraints found in an ecological community form a closed loop, that allows particular kinds of feedback may give structure to the ecosystem processes for a period of time. In this simulation model, we look at how evolutionary forces act in such a way these closed constraint loops may form. This may explain some kinds of ecosystem stability. This work will also be valuable to ecological theorists in understanding general ideas of stability in such systems.

Schelling famously proposed an extremely simple but highly illustrative social mechanism to understand how strong ethnic segregation could arise in a world where individuals do not necessarily want it. Schelling’s simple computational model is the starting point for our extensions in which we build upon Wilensky’s original NetLogo implementation of this model. Our two NetLogo models can be best studied while reading our chapter “Agent-based Computational Models” (Flache and de Matos Fernandes, 2021 [forthcoming]). In the chapter, we propose 10 best practices to elucidate how agent-based models are a unique method for providing and analyzing formally precise, and empirically plausible mechanistic explanations of puzzling social phenomena, such as segregation, in the social world. Our chapter addresses in particular analytical sociologists who are new to ABMs.

In the first model (SegregationExtended), we build on Wilensky’s implementation of Schelling’s model which is available in NetLogo library (Wilensky, 1997). We considerably extend this model, allowing in particular to include larger neighborhoods and a population with four groups roughly resembling the ethnic composition of a contemporary large U.S. city. Further features added concern the possibility to include random noise, and the addition of a number of new outcome measures tuned to highlight macro-level implications of the segregation dynamics for different groups in the agent society.

In SegregationDiscreteChoice, we further modify the model incorporating in particular three new features: 1) heterogeneous preferences roughly based on empirical research categorizing agents into low, medium, and highly tolerant within each of the ethnic subgroups of the population, 2) we drop global thresholds (%-similar-wanted) and introduce instead a continuous individual-level single-peaked preference function for agents’ ideal neighborhood composition, and 3) we use a discrete choice model according to which agents probabilistically decide whether to move to a vacant spot or stay in the current spot by comparing the attractiveness of both locations based on the individual preference functions.

The SimPioN model aims to abstractly reproduce and experiment with the conditions under which a path-dependent process may lead to a (structural) network lock-in in interorganisational networks.

Path dependence theory is constructed around a process argumentation regarding three main elements: a situation of (at least) initially non-ergodic (unpredictable with regard to outcome) starting conditions in a social setting; these become reinforced by the workings of (at least) one positive feedback mechanism that increasingly reduces the scope of conceivable alternative choices; and that process finally results in a situation of lock-in, where any alternatives outside the already adopted options become essentially impossible or too costly to pursue despite (ostensibly) better options theoretically being available.

The purpose of SimPioN is to advance our understanding of lock-ins arising in interorganisational networks based on the network dynamics involving the mechanism of social capital. This mechanism and the lock-ins it may drive have been shown above to produce problematic consequences for firms in terms of a loss of organisational autonomy and strategic flexibility, especially in high-tech knowledge-intensive industries that rely heavily on network organising.

This is a simulation model of communication between two groups of managers in the course of project implementation. The “world” of the model is a space of interaction between project participants, each of which belongs either to a group of work performers or to a group of customers. Information about the progress of the project is publicly available and represents the deviation Earned value (EV) from the planned project value (cost baseline).
The key elements of the model are 1) persons belonging to a group of customers or performers, 2) agents that are communication acts. The life cycle of persons is equal to the time of the simulation experiment, the life cycle of the communication act is 3 periods of model time (for the convenience of visualizing behavior during the experiment). The communication act occurs at a specific point in the model space, the coordinates of which are realized as random variables. During the experiment, persons randomly move in the model space. The communication act involves persons belonging to a group of customers and a group of performers, remote from the place of the communication act at a distance not exceeding the value of the communication radius (MaxCommRadius), while at least one representative from each of the groups must participate in the communication act. If none are found, the communication act is not carried out. The number of potential communication acts per unit of model time is a parameter of the model (CommPerTick).

The managerial sense of the feedback is the stimulating effect of the positive value of the accumulated communication complexity (positive background of the project implementation) on the productivity of the performers. Provided there is favorable communication (“trust”, “mutual understanding”) between the customer and the contractor, it is more likely that project operations will be performed with less lag behind the plan or ahead of it.
The behavior of agents in the world of the model (change of coordinates, visualization of agents’ belonging to a specific communicative act at a given time, etc.) is not informative. Content data are obtained in the form of time series of accumulated communicative complexity, the deviation of the earned value from the planned value, average indicators characterizing communication - the total number of communicative acts and the average number of their participants, etc. These data are displayed on graphs during the simulation experiment.
The control elements of the model allow seven independent values to be varied, which, even with a minimum number of varied values (three: minimum, maximum, optimum), gives 3^7 = 2187 different variants of initial conditions. In this case, the statistical processing of the results requires repeated calculation of the model indicators for each grid node. Thus, the set of varied parameters and the range of their variation is determined by the logic of a particular study and represents a significant narrowing of the full set of initial conditions for which the model allows simulation experiments.

A minimal genetic algorithm was preliminarily developed to search for the solution of an elementary arithmetic problem. It has been modified to explore the effect of a mutator gene and the consequent entrance into a hypermutation state. The phenomenon is particularly important in some types of tumorigenesis and in a more general way, in cells and tissues submitted to chronic sublethal environmental or genomic stress.
Since a long time, some scholars suppose that organisms speed up their own evolution by varying mutation rate, but evolutionary biologists are not convinced that evolution can select a mechanism promoting more (often harmful) mutations looking forward an environmental challenge. The aim of the model is to shed light on these controversial points of views.


Toby Pilditch | Published Fri Oct 9 11:05:30 2020

Micro-targeted vs stochastic political campaigning agent-based model simulation. Written by Toby D. Pilditch (University of Oxford, University College London), in collaboration with Jens K. Madsen (University of Oxford, London School of Economics)

The purpose of the model is to explore the various impacts on voting intention among a population sample, when both stochastic (traditional) and Micto-targeted campaigns (MTCs) are in play. There are several stages of the model: initialization (setup), campaigning (active running protocols) and vote-casting (end of simulation). The campaigning stage consists of update cycles in which “voters” are targeted and “persuaded” - updating their beliefs in the campaign candidate / policies.

NetLogo agent-based model to simulate the transmission of COVID-19 in a university dormitory. User can set the number of initial students, buildings, floors, rooms, number of initially infected, and transmission rate. They can also test the effect of masks, sanitizations, elevator allowance, and visits on the effect of the SEIR curve.

Peer reviewed BAM: The Bottom-up Adaptive Macroeconomics Model

Alejandro Platas López | Published Tue Jan 14 17:04:32 2020 | Last modified Sun Jul 26 00:26:21 2020



Modeling an economy with stable macro signals, that works as a benchmark for studying the effects of the agent activities, e.g. extortion, at the service of the elaboration of public policies..

Peer reviewed MIOvCWD

Aniruddha Belsare | Published Fri Dec 13 20:24:03 2019

MIOvCWD is a spatially-explicit, agent-based model designed to simulate the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Michigan’s white-tailed deer populations. CWD is an emerging prion disease of North American cervids (white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus, mule deer Odocoileus hemionus, and elk Cervus elaphus) that is being actively managed by wildlife agencies in most states and provinces in North America, including Michigan. MIOvCWD incorporates features like deer population structure, social organization and behavior that are particularly useful to simulate CWD dynamics in regional deer populations.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, governments agreed on and accepted CO2 reduction targets in order to counter climate change. In Europe one of the main policy instruments to meet the agreed reduction targets is CO2 emission-trading (CET), which was implemented as of January 2005. In this system, companies active in specific sectors must be in the possession of CO2 emission rights to an amount equal to their CO2 emission. In Europe, electricity generation accounts for one-third of CO2 emissions. Since the power generation sector, has been liberalized, reregulated and privatized in the last decade, around Europe autonomous companies determine the sectors’ CO2 emission. Short-term they adjust their operation, long-term they decide on (dis)investment in power generation facilities and technology selection. An agent-based model is presented to elucidate the effect of CET on the decisions of power companies in an oligopolistic market. Simulations over an extensive scenario-space show that there CET does have an impact. A long-term portfolio shift towards less-CO2 intensive power generation is observed. However, the effect of CET is relatively small and materializes late. The absolute emissions from power generation rise under most scenarios. This corresponds to the dominant character of current capacity expansion planned in the Netherlands (50%) and in Germany (68%), where companies have announced many new coal based power plants. Coal is the most CO2 intensive option available and it seems surprising that even after the introduction of CET these capacity expansion plans indicate a preference for coal. Apparently in power generation the economic effect of CO2 emission-trading is not sufficient to outweigh the economic incentives to choose for coal.

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